You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart, with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
- Matthew 22: 37 - 39
In the spring of 2016, I joined the leadership team of Contemplative Outreach of Maryland and Washington (COMW). Earlier this year, I accepted the offer to become co-coordinator. From its conception, COMW has faithfully and gladly tithed to Contemplative Outreach LTD in thanks for its technical support and guidance, not only of our chapter but to the whole CO community. Our annual tithe is based on the balance in our account.
At our spring leadership team meeting, LJ Milone, my co-coordinator colleague, posed this question to the team: “How should we use our money?" The team realized that we had been maintaining a healthy bank balance, and we wanted to do more than just tithe to Contemplative Outreach Ltd. We wanted to focus the money on specific projects.
In July, while attending the Circle of Friends gathering in Snowmass, I had the opportunity to spend time with Pat Johnson, long-time retreat leader and now administrator for Contemplative Outreach. I asked her, "What do chapters do with their ‘extra’ money? Can we earmark funds to go to a particular activity?" Pat’s immediate response was, “Your team should consider helping chapters in financial need,” and she referred me to Marie Howard, coordinator of volunteers.
When I shared with my COMW leadership team the idea of contributing directly to a chapter, they were all very enthusiastic about it and took the idea a step further -- we could contribute more than just the money! We also wanted to form a relationship with the chapter beyond financial support, offering advice or other support, if requested. Thus, the idea of a "sister chapter" was born.
Marie Howard suggested we meet during the September Contemplative Outreach Conference in Denver along with Sister Fionnuala Quinn, international coordinator. While there, Marie introduced me to the coordinator of a newly formed local chapter in need of seed money to help it get off the ground. Sister Fionnuala also suggested an international chapter in need of a financial boost. Perfect! Our team jumped at the opportunities.
COMW is now in relationship with both chapters, offering not only financial support, but the support of our experience and friendship. We stay in contact with each of the two chapters mostly by email, but also by phone when wanting to discuss particular subjects. We look to growing the relationship through the year with the hope to continue the financial support on an annual basis.
Here are excerpts from the thank-you notes we received from our two sister chapters:
From the United States chapter: “It is most fitting that on this Thanksgiving evening, that I sit down to send our sincere thanks to all of you and the entire chapter for seeding our new local chapter. I hope you know how much the gift of the check means to me, this chapter and all the people whose lives will be touched by our joint work. My heart is full of love and gratitude. What a wonderful idea you had, to share your wealth. And, I am so happy that we were smiled upon! Thank you all so very much. It is wonderful to be supported in such a tangible way. Your gift will make such a world of difference to our Chapter's ability to grow and serve our local population. I am just blown away that this has taken place.”
From the International chapter: “On behalf of our Contemplative Outreach community I would like to say thank you so much for your help and support, we appreciate your generosity very much. Thank you very much, please say thank you to all those involved in this work of support, certainly I will keep you informed about growth, and about our projects.”